Space Adventures, Ltd., the world’s leading space experiences company, announced today that Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., has agreed to conduct a series of tests on behalf of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during his 10-day stay onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Dr. Simonyi is scheduled to launch on April 7 onboard a Soyuz TMA spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan en route to the ISS.  He will be joining the Expedition 15 crew which includes Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov.

“As the world’s fifth space tourist I think I have an obligation to assist with space station research and to participate in experiments on behalf of international space agencies,” said Dr. Simonyi.  “I look forward to supporting JAXA’s study and contributing to the development of high definition technology in space.”

In an agreement with JAXA, Dr. Simonyi will conduct a series of tests on several high definition camcorders currently onboard the ISS.  High definition video imagery from the ISS has multiple research and engineering applications, however due to the elevated radiation environment of the ISS, the charged couple devices (CCD) in high definition video camcorders degrade rather quickly. 

Studies are currently underway to understand which high definition camera components hold up the longest in the environment of space.  The footage taken by Dr. Simonyi will be analyzed once back on Earth to determine the degradation of each camera’s CCD.

“We, at Space Adventures, commend Charles for his commitment to the advancement of technology and science,” said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures.  “Just as Charles was a leader in the advent of the age of information, software and the computer, it is quite fitting that he is a pioneer of private spaceflight as well,” said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures. 

Dr. Simonyi reveals much more about this experiment on his Web site Through this rich-media site, Dr. Simonyi personally chronicles his mission with photos and video of his training, in-depth blogs, and an “Ask Charles” section where he answers questions posed by visitors to the site. Additionally, a special section called “Kids’ Space” is a place where children can learn about space and Dr. Simonyi’s adventure, and even earn an official “Charles in Space Mission Certificate of Achievement”.

Space Adventures, the only company to have successfully launched private explorers to space, is headquartered in Vienna, Va. with offices in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Moscow and Tokyo. It offers a variety of programs such as the availability today for spaceflight missions to the International Space Station and around the moon, Zero-Gravity flights, cosmonaut training, spaceflight qualification programs and reservations on future suborbital spacecrafts. The company’s advisory board includes Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, Shuttle astronauts Sam Durrance, Tom Jones, Byron Lichtenberg, Norm Thagard, Kathy Thornton, Pierre Thuot, Charles Walker, Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev.